2265 North Clybourn Avenue    Chicago, IL 60614    P: 773.296.6700     F: 773.296.1131

Cranberry

What Is It?

Generations of American women have known that the bitter native cranberry isn’t just the basis of a Thanksgiving relish. In fact, these small, dark red berries have a long medical history in addition to a colorful culinary one. Specifically, cranberry juice and cranberry extract appear to help prevent and even eliminate urinary tract infections. Most women develop this type of problem at least once in their lives, and some suffer from constant recurrences.

The name “cranberry” evolved from “craneberry” (a common name for the low-growing shrub Vaccinum macrocarpon) because the plant’s flowers resemble the heads of cranes frequently spotted in the bogs where cranberries thrive.

Health Benefits

Early American physicians successfully applied crushed cranberries to tumors and wounds. They also used cranberries as a remedy for the age-old malady known as scurvy, a disease caused by a lack of vitamin C. It wasn’t too surprising, therefore, when modern scientists discovered that cranberries contain plentiful stores of this common antioxidant vitamin.

Recently, Israeli researchers discovered that a compound in cranberry juice is effective against various plaque-forming bacteria that can bind to teeth and cause gingivitis and gum disease. If you’re considering using cranberry juice for this purpose, however, stick with the natural (and unsweetened) variety. Commercial cranberry juice cocktails are very high in sugar, a gum-disease culprit in its own right.

Researchers have also found that cranberry juice may deodorize urine, a real boon for individuals who suffer from incontinence. In fact, the most popular medicinal uses by far for cranberry relate to urinary tract conditions.

Specifically, cranberry may help to:

Prevent and relieve symptoms of urinary tract infections (UTIs). Over the decades, countless women have used pure cranberry juice or cranberry juice cocktail to self-treat their UTIs. This common infection typically causes a burning sensation while urinating as well as a frequent and often intense urge to do so. For a long time, cranberries were thought to directly fight the infection by acidifying the urine to such an extent that bacteria such as Escherichia coli would languish or die. Today, the prevailing theory is that cranberry juice inhibits microorganisms from adhering to the mucosal cells lining the urinary tract, making it a less hospitable environment for the proliferation of E. coli and other infection-causing bacteria.

Several clinical trials now corroborate that this folk remedy does indeed work. In one of the best-designed studies, published in the prestigious Journal of the American Medical Association in 1994, Harvard researchers reported that regular consumption of cranberry juice led to reduced amounts of potentially infectious bacteria in 153 older women. The number of white blood cells–markers of the body’s response to infection–were also less. And over a six-month period, the participants who drank 10 ounces of cranberry juice daily developed significantly fewer cases of UTIs. Studies in younger women have been similarly positive.

In addition, when taken at the same time as prescription antibiotics for a UTI, cranberry juice or cranberry extract in supplement form may lessen the duration of the infection and help to ease such symptoms as itching, burning, and pain. In general, however, this herbal remedy is better taken to prevent recurrent UTIs than to treat a potentially serious infection that has already developed.

Reduce the risk for kidney stones. Anecdotal reports indicate that cranberry may help to reduce the risk of infection when you have this painful condition, also commonly referred to as urinary stones and “bladder gravel.”

Forms

tincture
tablet
liquid
fresh herb
dried herb/tea
capsule

Dosage Information

Special tips:

–Be aware that many major brands of cranberry juice cocktail are only 30% cranberry juice, with water and sweeteners making up the difference. If you want to drink a smaller amount of juice, try a high-quality, full-strength cranberry juice product, often sold at health-food stores. Add apple juice, if you find the taste too tart.

–A cup of cooked fresh cranberries is roughly equivalent to a 400 mg cranberry capsule, but the tangy flavor may require the addition of a sweetener.

To prevent UTIs: Drink three or more fluid ounces of cranberry juice cocktail (containing at least 30% juice) daily. Alternatively, take four to six 500 mg capsules of dried cranberry powder; the milligram dosage should come out to at least 2,000 mg daily.

To treat UTIs: Take 6,000-8,000 mg standardized extract a day, divided into three or four doses (such as four 500 mg capsules, three or four times a day). Alternately, drink 12 to 32 fluid ounces of cranberry juice cocktail daily.

Guidelines for Use

Drinking lots of water or other fluids, in addition to taking cranberry, will speed recovery from a UTI.

Taking vitamin C (2,000 mg three times a day) will further acidify the urine and improve the effect of cranberry.

General Interaction

If you use medication that affects your kidneys or urinary tract, consult your doctor before using cranberry.

Cranberry’s acidifying effect on urine lessens the impact of an herb called uva ursi (or bearberry) that is also taken for urinary tract infections. Choose either uva ursi or cranberry; don’t use them together.

Possible Side Effects

Drinking cranberry juice in large quantities can cause diarrhea and stomach upset.

No serious side effects have been associated with the use of moderate amounts of cranberry in supplement form. Some people develop loose stools as a result of treatment with cranberry supplements, however; stop taking them if this occurs.

Cautions

If you suspect you have a UTI, try cranberry for 24 to 36 hours. But if such symptoms as burning, pain, or a frequent urge to urinate persist after that time, consult your doctor. Antibiotics may be necessary to prevent serious complications.

Keep in mind that cranberries may not eliminate or wash away all bacteria, which is why prescription antibiotic treatment may be needed to knock out a UTI completely. After you have self-treated a bladder infection, checking with your doctor and obtaining a follow-up urinalysis is strongly advised, even if your symptoms have completely cleared. If this isn’t done, recurrent infections might cause infections in the upper urinary tract that could harm the kidneys. Signs and symptoms of this potentially serious complication include low back pain, fever, chills, and the presence of blood in the urine. Seek professional care.

Ailments-Dosage

Kidney Stones Acute: 2 300-500 mg capsules twice a day or drink 6 oz. of cranberry juice 4 times a day
Urinary Tract Infections 400 mg 4 times a day


Join our Newsletter

Get health recommendations, delicious and time-saving recipes, medical news, supplement reviews, birthday discounts, and more!

Health Tips

Dr. Edelberg’s Health Tips contain concise bits of advice, medical news, nutritional supplement and pharmaceutical updates, and stress relief ideas. With every Health Tip, you’ll also receive an easy, delicious, and healthful recipe.

When you sign up to receive Health Tips, you can look forward to Dr. Edelberg’s smart and very current observations arriving in your in-box weekly. They’re packed with helpful information and are often slightly irreverent. One of the most common responses to the tips is “I wish my doctor talked to me like this!”

Quick Connect

Get One Click Access to our

patient-portal

The Knowledge Base

Patient education is an integral part of our practice. Here you will find a comprehensive collection of staff articles, descriptions of therapies and nutritional supplements, information addressing your health concerns, and the latest research on nutritional supplements and alternative therapies.

Telemedicine – Now Available at WholeHealth Chicago

In order to maintain your continuity of care, WholeHealth Chicago now offers telemedicine appointments with most of our practitioners. During a telemedicine visit, you and your healthcare provider can review medical history, discuss symptoms, arrange for prescriptions, and more. When necessary, labs and diagnostic imaging can be ordered from a facility near your home, and our Natural Apothecary can ship supplements quickly to your door.

Please contact Patient Services for details and scheduling a telemedicine appointment, or to change a regular appointment to telemedicine by calling 773-296-6700.

We’re looking forward to meeting with you in our virtual consultation room soon.

DIAGNOSE-IT-YOURSELF: COVID-19

Far and away, the commonest phone call/e mail I receive asks about COVID-19 diagnosis.
Just print this out, tape it on your refrigerator door, and stay calm.

ALLERGIES

• Runny nose
• Sneezing
• Red, swollen eyes
• Itchy eyes and nose
• Tickly throat
• No fever

COLD
• Runny nose
• Sneezing
• Sore throat
• Mild muscle aches
• Mild dry cough
• Rarely a low fever

STREP THROAT
• Painful sore throat
• Hurts to swallow
• Swollen glands in neck
• Fever

FLU (Standard seasonal flu)
• Fever
• Dry cough (no mucus)
• Sudden onset over few hours
• Headache
• Sore throat
• Fatigue, sometimes quite severe
• Muscle aches, sometimes quite severe
• Rarely, diarrhea

CORONAVIRUS-COVID 19
• Shortness of breath
• Fever (usually above 100 degrees)
• Dry cough (no mucus)
• Slow onset (2-14 days)
• Mild muscle aches
• Mild fatigue
• Mild sneezing

Recent Health Tips

  • Functional Medicine 101 + Introducing Dr. Parisa Samsami

    Functional Medicine (FM) is without a doubt the fastest growing medical specialty of the 21st century. Public interest and broad public acceptance of it continue to please me. Every day I hear the sentence, “I made this appointment because I wanted a functional approach.” When I ask patients how they learned about it, the answer is a variation on Dr. Google. Here at WholeHealth Chicago we’ve Read More

  • The Flu Shot: Now More Important Than Ever

    When it comes to the flu shot, I take a far more conventional approach than many WholeHealth Chicago patients expect of a doctor who considers himself alternative/integrative. It’s also worth noting that after reviewing some of the online advice warning people away from the flu shot, it’s my sense that this is frequently followed by “…and this is my product you can buy instead.” So Read More

  • Lyme Disease In Your Nervous System: Three Cases

    “Why am I limiting this to only three cases?” I wondered. Physicians who treat Lyme, like our group at WholeHealth Chicago where we see a lot of Lyme disease patients, would tell you there are so many manifestations of Lyme when it invades the nervous system that I really should list as many as possible. But to keep this Health Tip manageable, we’ll keep it Read More

Join our Discount Program

Member benefits include 10% off all your purchases. Low, one-time membership fee of $25 ($35 for family).

MORE INFORMATION

Join our Newsletter

Get health recommendations, recipes, medical news, supplement reviews, birthday discounts, and more!